Benji (benji) wrote,
Benji
benji

How to avoid forks in your eyes and other tips for non hospitality people when eating out.

This post has been a long time in coming. I am getting to the point that I literally loath eating out in a group. What should be a fun time for all concerned invariably ends up with me playing mediator to everyone walking a fine line between not upsetting the staff, not upsetting my friends, trying to get things to happen and not gouge my eyes out.

There is some shit people need to realise when you're eating out.

1. Don't act like an asshole first.

I can't even count the number of times I've seen people come in, talk down to management and waiting staff, demand things, blame the staff for nothing and then been absoloutely horrified when they get ignored. You have to realise that contrary to popular belief. The people who serve you are in fact human. Speaking to them like shite is not going to make them want to serve you any better. Funnily enough they tend to resent serving you, probably exactly the same reaction you would have if you were in their shoes.

2. Listen to what you're told.

There seems to be this idea that when you're in a restaurant you have to be street smart and fight your corner like you're mother fucking Mohammed Ali or something. When the manager or server says that they can't do something... 99% of the time it's not (as you seem to think) because they are lazy jobsworths. It's usually because what you are asking isn't as reasonable as you might think. A common case is the whole splitting a bill 15 ways. Yes I am sure that pretty much every restaurant can do this. However in most restaurants it takes about 2 minutes to process a payment. If you want to pay 15 ways, you are taking up a server for 30 minutes. That means the poor buggers who are meant to be getting served at other tables, aren't. On top of that, I can guarantee, despite your best intentions, there are people who either forget what they've had or intentionally miss stuff out. So that once everyone has paid you're still left with an amount outstanding and the person who owes the money left 20 minutes ago. Another example is when you enter without booking and you're told there isn't a table ready. There aren't many restaurants that will try and stop people eating there. Just because you can see free tables, it doesn't mean they are available. Table management is a very complex thing. You may see a table of 4 free for your party of 4. However not only may it be booked for a 4 in a little while. However this isn't the only thing that matters. Tables often get moved. The host will know which tables can be moved and which tables need to be moved. You have no idea if they plan to use that table of 4 as a table of 8 in 30 minutes time, meaning that you really can't have either table. Similarly if you turn up with an unbooked table of 6 and you're told there are no tables of 6 available at the moment, saying shit like "just put those two together" is not helpful in the slightest! Your host will already have thought about that!

3. You're probably not at The Ritz.

I mean, okay, maybe you are. However more than likely you are at a place paying £12 for a steak meal. That £12 is being split between the cost of the food, the cost of the equipment used to produce it, the cost of the chef to cook it, the cost of the server to serve it, the cost of the gas to heat the room you're in, the insurance on the property, the vat on all that etc etc. It all boils down to, you not paying for this alone, You are sharing this cost with a lot of people. As a result you also share the service with them. If your server hasn't been over to you for 5 minutes, you can almost guarantee they have been serving someone else. This doesn't make them lazy, this doesn't mean they are bad at their job, this doesn't mean you can complain about them... it only means you aren't the only person in the restaurant. If you want immediate service, you will have to pay for it!

4. Pointing out faults.

There are two types of complaint. A valid one and one you want to point out. It is the most annoying thing in the world to see people just point out everything that is wrong like it is going to impress someone. Again, you're not at the Ritz. How about enjoying yourself!?

5. Passive to start and aggressive to end. Have an equillibrium.

Again, 99% of places want to serve you well. Occassionally things do go wrong and usually the establishment is happy to put them right. That question "Is everything ok with your food" is not there to trick you. I've heard all kind of stories "They wait till you have something in your mouth before asking" No they don't and your insistance that "I know for a fact they are trained to do this" is wrong. Truth is a few people round a table, someone will be chewing at some point no matter when you ask. The reason this question is asked is so they can put right any problems. If there is a problem, say it then and work with them for the solution. Don't say nothing then make out you've been failed after the meal has finished. You had your chance, use it. Don't go off on one because shock horror, you saying everything was ok, made them think there were no problems to fix.

6. Read the menu and ask questions if you're not sure.

Places do things differently. The surf and turf at one restaurant may well be different to that of another restaurant. Read that description to make sure you are getting what you want. If it's unclear then ask someone. Don't act like they are wrong because they didn't read your mind and got you what you asked for.

and finally...

7. Tips.

Just do it. Unless the service has been (trully and not just perceived to be) diabolical then be fair to the server. It happens every time I am out. You've complained all the way through about sod all, the staff have clearly bent over backwards to accomodate you, the food was served on time and you've acted like you're the queen of England, then you want to leave without a bit of financial gratitude. You my dear... are now an asshole!
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